Anti-Inflammatory Strategies–Achieving Homeostasis
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Back pain is one of the most common health complaints among adults in the US. From 75-80% of individuals will suffer from lower back pain sometime in their lives.

Symptoms of back pain include shooting or stabbing pains in the back, limited mobility, and/or pain that radiates down the leg.

The majority of individuals experiencing back pain will become more comfortable within days or weeks without medical treatment. Some people however may experience chronic pain lasting 2-3 months or more.  Nonetheless, all low back pain results in major economic and social repercussions for both sufferers and society.

 

DrHellen 2018 (c)

There is no known cause of the pain in approximately 90% of patients; it is what is termed “idiopathic”.  However, sitting too long or doing a physical task incorrectly may trigger back problems.  The lack of physical activity, excess weight, genetics and the physical demands of a job also contribute to lower back pain. Sedentary lifestyles are associated with 1.41 times greater risk of developing back pain. Individuals that are not physically active, are 1.23 times more likely to develop lower back pain.

Individuals with back pain frequently have the same anatomically “abnormalities” as people without back complaints. Patients with occupation-related back pain who had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their back were 8 times more likely to get surgery as those who had just x-rays. Since symptoms do not correlate with imaging testing, many practitioners will not recommend imaging testing within the first six weeks of pain (unless there is a strong suspicion of other underlying conditions)..

Inflammation in the body is tightly regulated, involving signals that initiate and maintain inflammation and others that turn inflammation off. Imbalances between the two, lead to unchecked inflammation.

Inflammation causes pain, and pain causes more inflammation.  When the body hurts, inflammatory cytokines, immune molecules, are triggered that initiate the healing process. The release in the spinal cord of certain cytokines is associated with inflamed nerves and pain.

CRP (C-reactive protein) is a biological marker of inflammation. Individuals with the most severe lower back pain have nearly twice the amount of CRP levels as those with less pain.

Back surgery may relieve some causes of back pain, but it’s rarely necessary. Most back pain resolves on its own. There are a number of treatments that are used to reduce inflammation and pain: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), epidural steroid injections, topically applied creams or sprays, and for some, hot and cold packs.

One of the best approaches to relieving lower back pain is exercise, especially McKenzie exercises [find the exercise best for you on YouTube].  Individuals that do back exercises find significant relief and if practiced consistently will find that their backs will be strengthened and they will have less discomfort.

[As previous posts have suggested, backed by clinical trials, exercise increases naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory cytokines and can provide significant and faster relief to those suffering with lower back pain.]

Summary:

The key to healing is a balanced immune response.  The body needs the right amount of inflammation to heal, but too much inflammation results in illness.

If you want to change how you feel, contact Dr. Hellen. No fee is charged for the first 30 minutes of consultation. Dr. Hellen may be  contacted by using this form or calling:  302.265.3870 (ET-USA).
mayohealthhighlights.startribune.com/2017/09/22/low-back-pain-caused-by-spinal-degeneration-and-injury/
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Repeatedly I am asked whether there is an association between inflammation and an enlarged prostrate.

Fifty percent of men by age 50, and 80% of men by age 80 have inflamed, enlarged prostrates, a condition medically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (The prostate is an organ that wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine to the outside. The primary function of the prostate is to produce sperm. Hyperplasia refers to the fact that the number of cells in the prostate increase, resulting in abnormal growth.)

As many men age, inflammation of the prostrate increases its size, enlarging it and putting pressure on the urethra.   (Although the prostate is enlarged, it is not a cancerous or fatal condition.) Why this occurs is still under investigation, but it appears to be a result of a combination of genetics, hormones and immune reactions.

Men with prostate hyperplasia have lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) such as an urgent and frequent need to urinate (especially during the night), waiting longer than usual for the stream of urine to begin, straining to urinate, having a weak stream or dribble of urine, not being able to completely empty one’s bladder, or needing to urinate immediately and having an “accident”.

Obesity leads to greater over-all inflammation and puts overweight people at higher risk of having prostrate and urinary tract disorders. Obese men are 3.5 times more likely to have enlarged prostrates compared with men of healthier weights.

The more weight a man carries, the more inflamed he is, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well. The relationship of an enlarged prostrate to diabetes remains controversial. Diabetes has been associated with bladder problems and the ability to control urination.

Additionally, the higher the level of sugar in the blood, the more likelihood of urinary problems and enlarged prostrates, especially in men that do not take medications for their diabetes. However, since both diabetes and benign prostate hyperplasia are inflammatory in nature and are clinically similar it is not clear whether the two diseases are associated.

Inflammation is tightly controlled to keep it balanced, in homeostasis.  We need enough inflammation for healing and for defending us from infections, but not so much inflammation that organs and tissues are damaged.

Being active, controlling one’s weight, going outdoors for a few minutes a day and using a proven immune balancing supplement will greatly affect the ability of the body to modulate inflammation.

For years I have helped people promote  their overall quality of life.  Feel free to contact me DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form, or give me a call at 302.265.3870 (ET) and let us talk. Let me help you help yourself, you deserve it.
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During a recent 5-day cancer conference in Washington, D.C. additional evidence was presented about the fact that inflammation produced by fat cells (adipose tissue) contributes to the growth and spread of tumors.

Dr. M.Kolonin of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Texas has been quoted as saying: “Obesity is the leading preventable cause of cancer in the U.S. Extra body fat not only increases one’s risk of developing cancer, it is also associated with poorer prognosis [outcomes]”… “Ten percent to fifteen percent of cancer deaths may be attributed to obesity”.

Exactly how body fat influences cancer development is still under investigation, but the key appears to be the inflammatory responses of the body to cancer cells and vice versa. Macrophages are one of the major classes of white blood cells responsible for starting the inflammatory response when the body is threatened by cancer cells, and  reducing inflammation when the challenge is over.

Typically, the breast tissue of overweight and obese young women is more inflamed, and has more immune cells, such as macrophages compared to women of healthy weight.  Also cancer in obese women is more difficult to treat than in women at healthier weight.

Metabolic syndrome is associated with a group of factors that puts one at greater risk of having heart disease,diabetes and stroke. If a person has three of the following factors, or are on medication for them, it is called having a metabolic syndrome.  These factors are: excess stomach fat, high blood pressure and triglycerides. low levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), and high blood sugar.

Image Fat cancer inflammation

In one study of 100 women, half of the women with inflammation of their breasts and early-stage breast cancer also had metabolic syndrome. 

Since obesity contributes to growth of tumors, investigators wondered whether weight loss might reverse the tendency to grow tumors.  In mice, tumors grew more slowly in obese mice that had previously lost weight.   

The body tightly regulates its inflammatory responses by balancing the amount of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory immune factors it produces. Fat cells naturally produce inflammatory molecules.  High amounts of body fat encourages growth of cancer cells.`

Note:

Controlling one’s weight at healthy levels, being physically active for 2.5 hours/week, getting outside every day for a few minutes and using a superior immune-balancing supplement will go a long ways toward helping the body stay in immune balance, stay in immune homeostasis,

Dr.Hellen is available to help you enhance your quality of life to its maximum.  She can be contacted by using this form, contacting her at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or feel free to call her at:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

 

https://meyercancer.weill.cornell.edu/how_obesity_fuels_cancer
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An article in a recent trade publication opened with the following: “Charles couldn’t believe the intensity of the pain – and he had been shot during a tour in Iraq with the Marines. “I was lying in my sleeper and my big toe just went on fire. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain,” Charles explained. “My big toe was red, swollen and when I touched it, even a little, it hurt like hell”. Charles’ problem is that he suffers from gout.

 Gout is a type of arthritis that seems to run in families and results from the presence of crystals that form in the body. For example, during digestion and metabolism, the body produces uric acid which is eliminated via urine. Any uric acid that the body cannot excrete accumulates in the blood. For reasons not understood, about 30% of people with high levels of uric acid in their blood form needle-like, sharp urate crystals that end up in their joints and/or other parts of the body.

 Herbert Baraf, MD, Chevy Chase, MD, has a great analogy: “Imagine pouring packets of sugar into a glass of tea; can only hold so much in solution. And sooner or later, the sugar is going to start accumulating on the bottom of the glass.

 People with gout may go weeks or months without an attack, but when it flares up it can be excruciating and last for days. Over time, repeated attacks can eat into bone and cartilage, causing permanent damage to affected joints.

Inflammation

The presence of crystals triggers an intense inflammatory response and painful swelling the result of the body’s attempt to break down the crystals. Typically the crystals end up in joint cartilage, and for unknown reasons, especially the big toe.

gouty toe

In others, crystals settle in kidneys or the urinary tract, impairing their function or forming stones. White blood cells migrate into the joint spaces and fluids and the lubricating membranes that line the joints, the synovial membranes trying to eliminate the crystals. The immune cells attracted to the area release biological factors, cytokines and chemokines, into the surrounding area. This attracts more inflammatory cells with a result of redness, swelling and debilitating pain.

Certain immune factors are typically only in small amount in normal uninflamed joint fluids, but in individuals undergoing a gout attack (flare) the levels of the factors are significantly increased.

 Since inflammation is associated with many diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular health, it is not surprising to find that patients with gout are at higher risk of these diseases when compared to the general population.

 Summary:

Gout is caused by an overactive immune system using inflammation unsuccessfully to get rid of the crystals that are causing the discomfort.

Returning the immune system to balance, immune homeostasis, can result in a higher level of quality of life (QOL) for people with gout.

For years I have helped people promote  joint, digestive, energy and overall health.   Feel free to contact me DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form, or give me a call at 302.265.3870 (ET) and let us talk. Let me help you help yourself, it is  time!

www.nature.com/icb/journal/v88/n1/full/icb200999a.html
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www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2015/680853/

 

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive and treatment-resistant cancer that appears to be driven by pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas.   Although most people with pancreatitis never go on to develop pancreatic cancer, drinking alcohol in excess, obesity, and particularly smoking, has long been associated with a greater risk of having pancreatic disease.

The Role of The Pancreas
The pancreas is a digestive organ with two main functions.  It produces digestive enzymes to break food down in our intestines, and it contains clusters of cells, Islets of Langerhans, that help the body regulate its blood sugar levels.

Inflammation as a Contributor to Pancreatic Cancer
Inflammation is a complex immune response.  Pancreatic inflammation, mediated by cytokines, immune messengers, up-regulate (increase) inflammation which may lead to pancreatic cancer. Once inflammation is triggered, more immune cells are attracted to the inflamed pancreas and additional cytokines are released that damage pancreatic tissue and attract other damage-causing immune cells.

One of the roles of the immune system is to recognize and destroy cancer cells.  There is a significant amount of “cross-talk” between cancerous cells and immune cells.  On one hand immune cells track down cancer cells in an attempt to destroy them.  They can “turn-on” (up-regulate) or “turn-off” (down-regulate) cancerous cells.  Signals from cancerous cells can result in marked imbalances of immune cells, or make them function in odd ways.

Role of Cytokines in Pancreatic Cancer.
For example, pancreatic tumor cells are able to dampen some of the immune responses of the immune system leaving pancreatic cancer cells to multiply more easily. Cytokines from immune cells can change the environment around tumor cells and act directly on them, triggering their growth and migration to other parts of the pancreas and body. Some cytokines transform cancer cells into becoming resistant to chemotherapy.

Others may act either to trigger inflammation or stop inflammation depending on circumstances. In one study of pancreatic cancer, the most invasive parts of a tumor were found in the midst of heavily inflammatory centers.

Bacteria May Drive Inflammation and Cancer
Interestingly, the studies of our microbiome, the bacteria that inhabit our digestive tracts and other parts of the body, suggest that the bacteria that inhabit us may trigger inflammation, thereby promoting the growth of cancers.

In summary, limiting inappropriate inflammation and achieving a state of immune balance, homeostasis, may be a significant contributor in reducing the risk of pancreatic disease.

Dr. Greenblatt  looks forward to assisting you in reaching your health goals:   http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET].

 

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Nearly every day people tell me that their joints are swollen and stiff, they hurt all over, and that they look and feel older than their chronological age. Most of these individuals have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis is a sign of a “boosted” immune system with excessive inflammation leading to joint damage. People report pain in areas such as their backs, fingers, hands, wrists, knees, and shoulders.

Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects the joints of the body. However sometimes even before joint symptoms appear, rheumatoid arthritis can involve other parts of the body including the lungs or eyes. Long-term inflammation of the lungs leads to scarring and shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and an on-going, chronic dry cough. If the pleura, the tissues around the lungs, become inflamed, fluid buildup may result in fever, pain when taking a breath, and difficulty in breathing.

Inflammation Is Essential for Our Survival:
Clinicians, and most lay people, focus on the harmful aspects of inflammation and try to stop the inflammatory response at all costs. Instead, all that is needed is to control the this immune response. The process of inflammation is normal, protective, and absolutely essential for our survival. Inflammation is the first step to healing after an injury or when the body is gathering its forces to stop an infection. Immune inflammation also helps the body destroy cancer cells before they grow and multiply.

When the body recognizes it has been injured or infected, the immune system releases antibodies and cytokines, smaller proteins that attract different types of immune cells into an area, to help eliminate and destroy threats to the body.

Once healing has started, the amount of inflammation that the body produces must be controlled. The genes that control inflammation have to be “turned off”, down-regulated, so that inflammatory responses are limited.

Arthritis is an Autoimmune Disorder:
Arthritis is one of many autoimmune disorders in which the body mistakenly produces autoantibodies, antibodies against its own tissues that attach to joint linings, and cartilage which acts as a shock absorber. The presence of autoantibodies may trigger immune cells to release inflammatory molecules that cause damage to the joints and other organ systems.

The Effect of Stress and Weight on Arthritis:
There are many factors that contribute to the discomfort experienced by individuals with joint issues. Two of these most recently investigated are: stress and weight.

Stress:
The body increases the amount of inflammation it produces when it is exposes to constant stress and the stress of pain. It becomes part of a vicious cycle. Stress causes inflammation, and inflammation leads to more stress. There is crosstalk between the nervous, hormonal, and immune systems. Changes in one system effects the other system.

Stressed individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis produce much higher levels of most cytokines than people without arthritis. Immunologically they respond differently to stress.

Weight Issues:
Overweight and obese patients with rheumatoid arthritis have more pain and respond less well to medication, as compared to normal weight patients. Obesity is an inflammatory disease during which fat cells, especially those concentrated around the inner organs, pump out large numbers of inflammatory molecules. Certain inflammatory proteins are found in high number in the abdominal fat tissue of overweight and obese individuals.

Importance of Immune Balance/Immune Homeostasis:
Immune inflammation is tightly regulated by the body. It consists of a) triggering and maintaining inflammatory responses, and b) producing immune messages that decrease and/or entirely stop the inflammation. Imbalances between the two phases of inflammation results in unchecked inflammation, loss of immune homeostasis, and may result in cell and tissues damage like that experienced in rheumatoid arthritis.

The key is to incorporate lifestyle changes to help the body maintain immune balance.

 Help your body return to immune balance.  Dr. Hellen may be contacted at: 302.265.3870 ET USA, or use the contact form. Thank you.

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/basics/definition/con-20034095
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People who are heavy and are not physically active, are at greater risk for conditions such as: increased blood sugar, higher pressures on their artery walls (high blood pressure), increased rate and workload on the heart, stroke, joint problems, sleep disorders, difficulty breathing, and even certain types of  cancer.

There are other posts on this blog relevant to the issue of being overweight or obese, but there is little question that most individuals would feel a lot better if they were only 5 or 10 pounds lighter.

When compared to leaner people, adipose tissue, the fat deposits of obese individuals, have higher numbers of, and larger, fat cells.  These cells produce cytokines, immune factors, that are inflammatory in nature and trigger numerous inflammatory conditions including many mentioned above.

Adipose tissue has “immune-like” properties.  For example, macrophages, white blood cells which alert the body to the presence of invaders, are found in high numbers in fat cell clusters.  Additionally, obese individuals have been shown to have  increased levels of proteins in the blood stream that stimulate inflammation.  Overweight or obese people do not fight infections or heal as well as individuals at more appropriate weights.

 The following hypothesis may have validity.  The immune system may “see” components of adipose tissue as “foreign material” that must be eliminated from the body.  If this scenario is correct, when the body “battles” adipose tissue an autoimmune response is triggered, a response in which the immune system destroys its own tissues, resulting in high levels of inflammation. My hypothesis is supported by the fact that obese individuals produce high levels of autoantibody, antibodies against their own tissues. Rather than resulting from inflammation, these autoantibodies may be the trigger for inflammation.

Muscle cells, like fat cells, secrete cytokines, molecules which help the body regulate inflammatory responses. In response to exercise, many different types of cytokines are produced by muscles and other cells.  Cytokine measurements taken after a marathon demonstrated 100 fold increases of certain cytokines, whereas other cytokines were produced that typically dampen an inflammatory response.

The wide spectrum of immune factors that the body produces in response to physical activity helps the body maintain a steady state of inflammation, an immune balance that helps the body defend itself against infection and helps healing, but not so much that innocent by-stander tissues are damaged.  In fact, studies have shown that individuals that are overweight, nevertheless may be healthy, if they are maintain a level of physical fitness.

The bodies of overweight and obese individuals are consistently exposed to self-generated, inappropriate levels of inflammation.  Helping the body return to a healthy balance of immune responses, a state of homeostasis, will go a long ways towards changing their quality of life.

I would be pleased to hear from you if you are interested in changing your quality of life.  I can be contacted at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or at:  302.265.3870 USA ET.

 


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Endometriosis* is a painful, hormonal and immune system disease in which tissues similar to the mucous membranes lining the uterus (endometrium), end up in “strange” locations, places that these sorts of tissues are not typically found. The pockets of tissue react to monthly surges of estrogen and progesterone just like the uterus. These cells can be found, for example, outside the uterus, around the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the abdominal cavity, bladder, cervix, or bowels, and can become irritated and inflamed during the reproductive cycle. Eventually the condition may result in scarring and adhesions, abnormal tissue that binds organs together like a spider web.

Autoimmune Contribution?
Some scientists suggest that in endometriosis the immune cells of the woman are unable to recognize the presence of these “displaced” tissues and that the cells are not destroyed as they normally would be. Women with endometriosis, besides having greater inflammatory responses, often produce autoantibodies (antibodies against healthy tissue) and immune factors that lead to inflammatory conditions.

Endometriosis is a complex disease in which many factors, including genetic, one’s anatomy, and one’s environment all contribute to the problem. Endometriosis is associated with a disrupted inflammatory and hormonal environment in which growth factors and immune factors, such as cytokines, exist at increased levels. Women with endometriosis may exhibit excessive growth of blood vessels and nerve cells in their pelvis, which may “feed” the pain.

Symptoms
Endometriosis may be accompanied by heavy bleeding at anytime during the menstrual cycle, with severe pain becoming especially acute during menstruation. Pain and cramping may begin before, and extend several days into a women’s menses, and she may experience lower back and abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and malaise. Pain may be present during or after sex, and with urination, or bowel movements.

The severity of the pain experienced is an unreliable indicator of the extent of the condition. For example, women with mild endometriosis may have extensive pain, while others with advanced endometriosis may experience little or no pain.
Endometriosis can develop in girls as young as eight, or years after the onset of menstruation. While many women find that symptoms of endometriosis temporarily stop during their pregnancy, and/or completely with menopause, this is not always the case.

The main complication of endometriosis, besides excruciating pain, is infertility. Thirty to fifty percent of women suffering with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant.

Inflammation
Endometriosis is associated with an inflammatory environment of the pelvis. Different types of cytokines, immune factors, and growth factors are elevated in these individuals. For example, IL-8 is an inflammatory cytokine associated with inflammatory responses. The amount of Il-8 present in the body is strongly correlated with the severity of the disease, and contributes to the formation of adhesions.

Lean vs. Obese Women
In a study of younger women, the risk of endometriosis later in life was 40% lower in morbidly obese women as compared to lean women. The latter group had a nearly 3-fold greater risk of developing endometriosis than the obese women. This finding is contrary to expectations, since typically, obese women are at greater risk of inflammatory-mediated diseases than leaner women, and therefore would be expected to be at greater risk of developing endometriosis.

 [As an aside, heavy women that engage in regular, moderate to vigorous physical activity, lower their risk for endometrial cancer and other diseases. This result is expected, since every time muscle cells contract, they release potent anti-inflammatory molecules which balance the amount of inflammation generated by fat cells.]

Toxic Chemical Exposure
Dioxin is a toxic byproduct of industrial and consumer processes that involve chlorine or incineration of chlorine-containing substances, such as PVC, polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as “vinyl” plastics.

Exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds have been shown to disrupt immune and hormonal balance and such chemicals have been implicated in the development of endometriosis and other diseases.

Non-Clinical Approaches
Physicians commonly recommend surgery and pharmaceutical approaches for endometriosis, but “alternative” approaches have been found to be helpful to others. For example acupuncture has been shown to be an effective pain treatment for some individuals. Additionally, eating a healthful diet, regular exercise, and certain amino acids may prove helpful.

Personal Note
I would be negligent if I did not mention that over a decade ago, a young researcher from West Virginia reported to me that a large number of women in a West Virginia community had been diagnosed with endometriosis. She was researching this problem, and unfortunately, she herself had endometriosis. I suggested a gradual introduction of a daily administration of 9-12 grams of polyvalent hyperimmune egg, a whole-egg protein from specially treated hens.

After a number of weeks the researcher reported back to me that her quality of life had improved dramatically. Unfortunately, I have lost contact with the investigator, so cannot report further on any changes she may have experienced.

Importance of Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance
The key to endometriosis, as with most disease, is run-away inflammation. Therefore, achieving immune, inflammatory, homeostasis (balance) in individuals with endometriosis, may result in major differences in their quality of life.

Dr. Hellen can be contacted at: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/ or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET].

*Interested parties may contact support@endometriosisassn.org for a free information packet on endometriosis.

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Shirley Wang published an article in the WSJ titled “New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body”. Her lead-in stated: “Scientists are increasingly finding that depression and other psychological disorders can be as much diseases of the body as of the mind. People with long-term psychological stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder tend to develop earlier and more serious forms of physical illnesses that usually hit people in older age, such as stroke, dementia, heart disease and diabetes”.

Ms. Wang reported that Dr. Owen Wolkowitz at the University of California, San Francisco thinks of depression as “a systemic illness”, rather than a mental or brain disease. Dr. Wolkowitz found that
“[D]epression is associated with an unusually high rate of aging-related illnesses and early mortality”, or “accelerated aging”. He also points out that individuals who are aging more rapidly and/or are ill, have shorter telomeres than expected.

[Division is essential for most healthy cells. Telomeres are the protective tips of chromosomes that guide the chromosomes during cell division. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres shorten in length. Eventually there is little or no telomere resulting in an inability of the cell to divide efficiently. Eventually the cell dies. Some investigators are of the opinion that the length of telomeres is a predictor of longevity.]

There appears to be a strong association of inflammation with shorter telomeres. Senescent cells, which are unable to divide any longer and have almost non-existent telomeres, produce high concentrations of immune factors, cytokines, that regulate genes that result in inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is found in a myriad of diseases including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer multiple sclerosis, dementia, as well as depression. Heightened levels of inflammation are found in smokers and the obese. Each pack of cigarettes smoked results in a 18% shortening of telomeres, and the telomeres of obese women are shorter than those of lean women. Using other biomarkers, both smokers and obese individuals have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies than the general population.

Depression results in inflammation and inflammation “feeds” depression. The same cytokines that cause inflammation, pro-inflammatory cytokines, under other circumstances may be anti-inflammatory.
Data from studies demonstrate that depressed individuals have an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors.

Some practitioners suggest that depressed patients need to “boost” their immune responses. Instead, “boosting” the immune response, i.e., inflammation, may only exacerbate the disease.

Because of the complexity of immune responses, it is important to let the body find its own “set” point. This is why achieving immune homeostasis, immune balance, is essential for good health.

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A previous posting (1) discussed the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and inflammation. Evidence was presented, that levels and types of inflammatory cytokines, as well as other blood markers, are different for individuals suffering with sleep apnea as compared to controls.

Steven Park,MD, a renowned sleep apnea expert in NYC, has discussed the contribution of inflammation to sleep apnea and vice versa (2).

Arthritis, Sleep Apnea, and Inflammation
Recently Dr. Park discussed a Mayo Clinic study in which 50% of rheumatoid arthritis patients were diagnosed with sleep apnea, compared to 31% of the rest of the population. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of runaway inflammation affecting the joints. (Older individuals are also at greater risk of sleep apnea, and they trend towards higher levels of inflammation.)

Cancer, Sleep Apnea, and Inflammation
Dr. Park has also mentioned a study concluding that sleep issues are associated with a heightened risk of cancer. Moreover, it is known that there is substantial “cross-talk” between cancerous cells and inflammatory immune cells. Cancer patients experiencing high levels of inflammation, have reduced survival rates. Clinicians have suggested that decreasing levels of inflammation in cancer patients may improve their prognoses.

Obesity, Sleep Apnea, Asthma, and Inflammation
As Dr. Park and others have pointed out, there is a strong association between obstructive sleep apnea and obesity. Fat cells, adipocytes, not only serve as fat depots, but also produce cytokines, immune messages, that up regulate or increase, inflammatory responses.

Obesity is also associated with a higher rate and severity of asthma. Overweight individuals with asthma have increased levels of TNF-apha, an “inflammatory” cytokine than healthy controls.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms May be Reduced by Physical Activity
One of the most important steps one can take to lower inflammation, besides controlling weight, and eating a healthy diet, is consistent exercise.

This concept is supported by a recent study from Brazil suggesting that physical exercise affects the cytokine makeup of obstructive sleep apnea patients and may reduce inflammation and symptoms of their disease.

Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance
The key to excellent health, and healthy aging, is to achieve immune homeostasis, immune balance. The immune system needs to produce enough inflammation to meet healing and infectious disease challenges, but it must be a “controlled” burn, so as not to damage innocent, by-stander cells and tissues.

Lifestyle changes are some of the simplest ways to correct immune imbalances and should be considered as part of anyone’s “preventive and treatment” protocol.

www.jrheum.org/content/36/9/1869.short
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22758643
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22377793
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22610391
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21339327
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22720220
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22751736
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22773729
http://drhellengreenblatt.info/2012/02/inflammation-cancer-chemotherapy-and-brain-fog/

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